M.V. Foundation, a voluntary organisation working for the cause of poor, has urged the State government to take steps to provide adequate meals to children during the lockdown period so as to prevent them from work.

“Steps should be taken to maintain a database of children at municipal wards and Gram Panchayat levels so that their status can be reviewed once a fortnight,” said foundation national convenor R. Venkat Reddy.

“Apart from being hungry, these children were made to walk long distances along with their parents who were returning to their native places during lockdown,” he said.

In a letter addressed to Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Mr. Venkat Reddy said that every Gram Panchayat and municipal ward should be asked to maintain a database of children who returned to their villages from their work places and those who migrated out. Efforts should be made to bring every school-going child back to school once they reopen. Self help groups, youths and opinion makers in the communities should be involved in this task.

The foundation urged the government to ensure that all school drop-outs were identified and re-enrolled into schools besides taking steps to arrange special training through accelerated learning methodologies to enable them join age-appropriate classes.

Efforts should be made to appoint full time social volunteers on the lines of ASHA and Anganwadi volunteers exclusively to attend to the needs of children. These volunteers should work in coordination with the departments to facilitate access to all the entitlements of children.

Mr. Venkat Reddy stressed the need for stringent measures to implement Child Labour Act and Child Protection Laws and increasing the number of inspection. If there was shortfall in existing machinery, the superior officer at the Gram Panchayat or municipal ward must be designated with powers of inspection. Market players should develop self-regulatory mechanisms to curb child labour.

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